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Less working hours? Evangelicals say flexibility and trust at the workplace would be better

The Spanish government hopes to reduce the working week to 37.5 hours. But work is not the enemy, it is the conditions that do not allow for healthy growth and service, Christians say.

AUTOR 45/Jonatan_Soriano BARCELONA 24 DE ENERO DE 2024 13:55 h
According to a survey, as many as 66% of the population consider the measure to be positive. / Photo: [link]CA Creative[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

The national government in Spain has announced that it is starting a process to reduce the working week to 37.5 hours, down from 40.

The agreement inside the leftist coalition government reflects one of the main promises in the July elections, which would affect 13 million workers, with a guarantee that wages would not shrink.

The goal, according to labour minister and vice-prime minister Yolanda Díaz is to end up limiting the working week to 32 hours, that is, four days instead of five. “It is a measure key to improving productivity in our country; this is science, not ideology”, she told the press.

Negotiations with trade unions and representatives of the business sector have started. Executives of large companies have often expressed the need to address absenteeism, a practice according to data of 2022 grew by 6.8% in Spain, a figure equivalent to 1.2 million employees missing work every day.

What does the population think? Surveys say that two thirds support the reduction of working hours, while 14% oppose the measure. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents say the measure would improve “work-life balance”, and 74% also believe it would be good for “the physical and mental health of workers”.


Christians: “Other fundamental problems need to be solved as well”

Spanish news website Protestante Digital asked two evangelical leaders connected to the world of labour about the government’s proposal. “The government is trying to consolidate its electoral base”, said Jaume Llenas, national coordinator of the Graduate Bible Groups (GBG), a movement supporting Christians in the workplace. “This is the star measure to retain the left-wing vote”.

For Llenas, there are “other fundamental problems that need to be solved, beyond the timetables, such as filling vacancies instead of distributing the work among the rest of the workers when someone takes a sick leave”.

The particularity of each job needs to be considered as well. “Not all workers have the same work rhythm, but if we give them enough work and allow them to divide their time as they wish, we can achieve greater involvement, happiness and identification of the worker”, Llenas said.

Rubén García, the executive director of a tech company and an elder in an evangelical church in Barcelona, also considered that although “there are arguments for and arguments against” the reduction of working hours, today “we do not need a shorter working day, but rather a stronger commitment on both sides that implies more freedom for the employee as long as the objectives assigned to him are met”.

García also appealed for a general sense of political consensus which is absent in Spain at thew moment. “This type of issue should be agreed by all parties, because it affects all people without political distinction”, he remarked.


A better vision of work

Both Jaume Llenas and Rubén García emphasise the need to present a different vision of work, one that is consistent with the biblical worldview. “Even when affected by sin, work is still a good thing. It is the way in which we manage to make a planet affected by evil and decay habitable. It is a way of collaborating with God’s purposes”, says Llenas. “It can be a way of bringing Kingdom goals closer and transforming society for the better”.

“Reducing working time should not so much be the goal, but rather to achieve working conditions that allow us to flourish as people and to serve others, our society, with our work”, he concludes.


[title]One more year[/title]


[text]At Evangelical Focus, we have a sustainability challenge ahead. We invite you to join those across Europe and beyond who are committed with our mission. Together, we will ensure the continuity of Evangelical Focus and Protestante Digital (Spanish) in 2024.

Learn all about our #OneMoreYearEF campaign here (English).






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